Can You Do This?

It wasn’t the album his label wanted. It wasn’t the album they expected. Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska was about as unusual and unexpected of an album that an up-and-coming rockstar could have possibly turned in, Warren Zanes explains in his fascinating book about the album, Deliver Me From Nowhere.

Bruce had recorded it by himself, in his house, using a four track recorder. It was sparse and dark and weird. It didn’t have what sounded like hits. So it would have been pretty reasonable for the label to be upset, or even reject it outright. But instead, as the scene from Deliver Me From Nowhere details, an exec named Al Teller had a very different reaction—one that every parent could learn from the next time our kids come to us with something that scares us, that goes in a direction we didn’t expect.

“I’m gonna tell you two things,” Teller said after listening thoughtfully to the album. “One, I don’t understand this record. I don’t even fully understand why an artist would make this record. Number two, I promise you we’re going to do a beautiful job on it. We’re going to handle this record exactly the way you want. We’re not going to try to make something of it that it’s not.”

Our kids are going to surprise us. Their dreams, as we said, are going to put them at odds with our priorities (that is to say, their safety and security). They are going to have plans for which we think we know better. They’re going to want to do things that seem absolutely crazy to us. But you know what? Our job is not to correct them on all that. Our job is not to make them into what we want them to be.

Our job is to support the album. Our job is to root for them, to be a fan. Our job is to help them become who they are.

We think this idea—that you have to be your kids’ biggest supporter—is so important that in The Daily Dad book, the entire month of August is on the theme. The month of August in The Daily Dad: 366 Meditations on Parenting, Love, and Raising Great Kids is titled, “Always Be A Fan”—it is, as we’ve said, the greatest gift you can give your kids.

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